Saturday 29 August 2020

Painting Graffiti (Trying to Anyway)

 In my pictures file, I recently ran across this photo of a former Milwaukee Road waffle-sided boxcar. This photo was taken by Eric Erholm in Tulsa about 10 years ago, and I had saved it for myself from the rrpicture archives website.

I happened to have a fairly similar, but not exactly the same type, car from ExactRail out on the layout. I had already patched and weathered it.  I decided to throw caution to the wind, and take a crack at adding the two graffiti tags to my model.  This is my 2nd attempt ever at graffiti.  The first one sold quite quickly at a train show.

I opened the picture up in "Paint Shop" and cropped out everything but the boxcar, and then corrected the perspective so that the image would appear as straight as I could get it.  I then printed out the image on paper to 210 mm in length, which is about the overall length of the model.  Doing all this did distort the height of the boxcar in the image somewhat, which surprised me a bit.

Regardless, I cut out the two graffiti tags, and then traced the outline of them onto the side of the model with a pencil.

I painted the area inside the lines in white. It took 3 coats of white to fully cover over the yellow, and then I sketched in the shapes of the letters by hand.  I'm no artist, but I did the best I could.  With that done, I painted flat black over the pencil lines with a fine tipped brush and filled in the spaces to form the letters.
Just the white area of the one tag painted in.

It all looked too new against the weathered side of the boxcar, so I mixed some white and grey craft paint and sprayed that over the tags to dull them down.  There was a bit of that paint mixture left over, so I gave both sides of the boxcar an overspray with that, which weathered the yellow down more than it already had been.
All finished up...I think that the black hand painted outlines of the letters is a little bit thick or heavy, but this hasn't turned out too badly.

Just for interest's sake, here's a photo of that first graffiti attempt that I referred to above...


  1. Jim, you're very modest. Both turned out very nice!

  2. Another thing is that some modelers find graffiti to be repulsive, but some can be really well done. If I ever befriend a tagger, the first thing I would ask is "what does it all mean?" hahaha...

  3. Thanks you again, Dave. I'm not wild about graffiti, but I think more of my freight cars should have it. I'd like to try to paint it myself rather than use decals, so as I see examples that I like and look fairly simple to do, I might add some more here and there.

    I look forward to your next post on your own blog as well.